Which Way Would You Rather Eat Your Veggies?

I have a question for you. Which of these do you think you’d be more likely to serve yourself at the local buffet line? “Low Calorie Green Beans” or “Zesty Citrus n’ Garlic Green Beans?”

The one with the fun name, am I right?

Well, a new study backs this up. Here’s what the researchers did: at a cafeteria at Stanford University, they presented the vegetables in the cafeteria one of four different ways. They were either given no label, a label with a healthy and restrictive sounding name (like the Low Calorie Green Bean option above), a label with healthy but positive sounding name (maybe something like “Healthy Green Beans!”), or a label with an indulgent sounding name (like the Zesty one above).

The researchers guessed that the indulgent sounding vegetables would be chosen more often, and man, they knew what they were talking about. Other research has shown that giving a food a healthy label actually causes people to eat less of it and even to feel hungrier after eating it (!), and this research adds on to that by showing that a really yummy sounding name seems to have the opposite effect.

How can you apply this information in your own life? There are a few ways.

Look up recipes that have really appealing names.

If you Google “fancy sounding green bean recipes,” you’ll get a number of options, such as “Crispy Roasted Green Beans,” “Easy Bleu Cheese Green Beans,” and “Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans.” I don’t know about you, but my mouth is actually starting to water.

Or try searching “Delicious Sounding Carrot Recipes” and you’ll find things like “Brown Butter Honey-Glazed Carrots” and “Garlic Roasted Carrots.” And, oh yeah, “Healthy Mashed Carrots.” Does that drive the point home, or what?

Go suggest both of those to your family. I’m serious. Ask your spouse if they’d like Healthy Mashed Carrots or Brown Butter Honey-Glazed Carrots for dinner. After they give the answer we all know they're going to give, you'll both be looking forward to dinner.

When you’re ordering, rename the vegetables yourself to make them more fun.

Okay, that might sound a little bit weird, but I think we’ve just proven that the tastier the veggie sounds, the more likely you are to want to eat it.

If you’re out at a restaurant and none of the veggies sound like something you’d actually want to put in your mouth, try coming up with your own name. Some restaurants already do this. I’m thinking of a local place that offers things like “Cheesy Smashed Cauliflower” and “Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts.” Even if you’re just ordering steamed broccoli, tell yourself you’re getting Jazzed-Up Crunchy Broccoli. It just sounds better.

Always try to reframe the names, even in your mind, from “healthy” to “delicious.” At home, at an event, at a friend’s house. Make it a habit and your body will thank you.

You’re trying to eat more veggies, now research is trying to show you how to do it.

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